Sen. Tom Cotton Tuesday slammed the Obama administration for its response to Iran capturing 10 American sailors
Tuesday, saying that the White House was "a hotbed of cold feet."
"Senior members of Barack Obama's administration are apologizing for Iran seizing two U.S. Navy vessels and holding 10 sailors hostage," the Arkansas Republican told Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was responding to a CNN report in which a top White House official said that the capture of the two small boats reflected "no sign of hostile intent by Iran."
"The White House, tonight, is a hotbed of cold feet," Cotton said. "The administration is rushing out officials to say there's no hostile intent in Iran's seizing our ships and holding our sailors in communicado, but the administration seems intent on protecting Iran and the nuclear deal rather than getting our sailors back.
"This is an effort by Iran, in all likelihood, to humiliate the United States and Barack Obama and to exert maximum leverage that Barack Obama gave them with the nuclear deal,” he said.
The first-term senator described Tehran's move "an openly hostile action" that was "not surprising" given the administration’s eagerness to reach a nuclear deal with the country.
The timing of the capture of the American sailors was also not coincidental, Cotton said.
Iran's move came just hours before President Obama was to deliver his final State of the Union Address and days before the possible implementation of the nuclear deal, freeing up more than $100 billion that had been frozen for five years through economic sanctions.
"Rarely are matters coincidental when dealing with ayatollahs," Cotton told Blitzer. "It's humiliating to have American sailors held hostage at the timing of the State of the Union.
"The nuclear deal about to be implemented, maybe this week, and Iran will get hundreds of billions of dollars to continue its campaign of terror aggression throughout the world.
"This is the ayatollah's effort to inflict maximum humiliation on the United States and President Obama," he said.
Cotton said that the administration right now must focus on getting the sailors back quickly and safely — even if it means stopping the nuclear deal and using military force.
"President Obama should make it very clear: these sailors and both vessels are to be put in radio contact with Navy officials to assure their safety and immediately released," Cotton said. "If they're not released, the Iran deal will not go forward and military force will be on the table to retaliate for this act of aggression."
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